The event kicks off Allhallowtide, a three-day period that ends with All Souls’ Day, and celebrates the day before the Western Christian feast of All Saints. The majority of North America and much of Europe do not observe Halloween as a religious holiday. The day after Halloween, Monday, October 31, 2022.
Samhain , a festival celebrated by the Celts of ancient Britain and Ireland, is where Halloween got its start. The new year was thought to start on the day that modern calendars would place as November 1. When the herds were brought in from pasture and land tenures were renewed on that day, it was regarded as the start of the winter season.
The dead were thought to visit their houses during the Samhain celebration and those who passed away over the year were thought to travel to the afterlife. In order to scare away evil spirits and relight their hearth fires for the winter, people would build bonfires on hilltops. They would also occasionally dress in disguises like masks.
All Saints’ Day was first observed on May 13 by Pope Boniface IV in the 7th century CE. The following century, it was possibly moved to November 1 in an effort to replace the pagan holiday with a Christian celebration. Halloween was created as a holy or hallowed eve on the night before All Saints’ Day. The secular and holy days were intermingled by the end of the Middle Ages.
The Protestant Reformation ultimately ended the religious celebration, however Halloween continued to be observed as a secular holiday, especially in Britain. Early American colonists primarily forbade participating in other celebrations, including Halloween, while in the 1800s harvest festivals with a variety of traditions emerged.
Halloween has a variety of traditions because it is a secular celebration. One is the act of playing pranks, which are mostly harmless. Trick-or-treaters go from house to house with the threat that they will pull a trick if they do not receive a treat, usually candy. Trick-or-treaters are thought to have originated from the British practice of allowing the poor to beg for food, called “soul cakes.” Bobbing for apples is a popular pastime at Halloween celebrations; it may have originated with the Roman holiday of Pomona. The celebration of the event includes frightening characters like ghosts, witches, and vampires in addition to skeletons and black cats. The jack-o-lantern, a hollowed-out pumpkin that was first used as a symbol, is another.